To be a middleman… truthfully, it’s not something I ever aspired to, and yet I get the sense from the observations of a lifetime that middlemen do pretty well for themselves. They also tend to slip by under the radar.
What is a middleman? He/she is the one who sees an existing arrangement and plants themself in the middle, an opportunist and beneficiary for what someone ELSE has built. I guess you could give points to a middleman, but they are not the kind of points that evoke admiration. You have to give points to a middleman because they are a bit of a shark. They smell blood, and they move in fast, then exit with the prize looking for other prey.
Middlemen see themselves as providing a service. They are “fixers” of a sort. They are the “I know this guy” type of people. For a price, they will make something happen. Their existence within structures is unavoidable, at least if evil is opportunistic like they say. Think hippos. They are unable to scratch their own backs, and so they tolerate the presence of small birds called Barbells which nibble away all the ticks and fleas on a hippo’s skin. I suppose what might be considered a pest can also be useful if they link up with your agenda.
Still, I do not have much use for middlemen. They make every transaction more expensive and therefore their presence should be an economic oxymoron. They see a pending financial transaction, and extract an extra pound of flesh from the arrangement. To successfully insert yoursef where you do not belong might be considered a legitimate talent, similar to wedding crashers, the ones who find out a few pertinent details about a Bride and Groom, parachute into a wedding, and pretend themselves through the h’ors d’oevres trays and wine bar, smiling all the way.
You might gather that I am not a fan. I see in the “modern” economy, much more tendency for such economic grifters to insert themselves into arrangements. It is a bit sad, because our world is becoming impersonal enough as it is, without ever more layers foisting themselves into that fat middle to make things ever more complicated.
Middlemen do not necessaryily have to be unethical. When I was very young I used to get freelance work through an agency created by a lovely lady who was very pleasant to deal with, and helpful. She made any situation better. When she sent you out for work, she would guard your integrity, make sure you were well paid, and if you were mistreated, she would get to the bottom of things and seek justice. But no more. The agencies in graphic arts which serve the same function in today’s world tend toward the worst aspects of globalism.
Typically, a large chunk of work will be set aside as a prospect. Rather than manage the work properly, the work will sit for a long time gathering dust while parties broker just how to carve up the prize. At the nineth hour, a search will begin for very qualified people to de facto manage the work on the ground level, without ever crediting them as managers. The stick will be employed more than the carrot, building some liability into the system to keep everyone just a little bit afraid, as the work is temporary, and those who fall off the merry-go-round will be punished. Such work tends to flesh out as a cattle call arrangement, since qualified people are hard to find. The middleman will batch candidates, to erase any individual worth that might otherwise be recognized. They will also push down what the candidates are paid. Why not? In a zero-sum game, it means more money in their own pockets.
Context? How about Judas. He was a middleman. He could hardly be blamed really, he just smelled the way the winds were blowing, and cashed in. Hey authorities. You want Jesus? I know him. I have privy information. I could make things just a little easier from your end, for the right kind of renumeration. Twenty pieces of silver? How about thirty and you have yourselves a deal. Just a little kiss and a trip to the bank.
Classical econimics informs us that with skill and diligence, a worker can rise up in the system, to a place in the market where skill meets need. And yet... I wonder if those economists considered the lazy entropy which can engulf the best in life. Entropy seeks the easy route. It wants to be paid much for doing little. To profit from the labour of someone else’s hands is not an arrangement that I aspire to, but it sure puts the “C” into Capitalism.
So you can see that no, I do not like middlemen, not very much. They are just more parasites in life, and their talents are the kind that make things worse for everybody. The modern economy… a perplexing study in middlemen. The term “smash and grab” comes to mind. Slow-clap, people. A middleman has just entered the room. Well done, you have managed to fill your pockets for yet another round.
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